Since this was my week to present, I decided to test out a platform I had never used before. A couple weeks ago, I gave Pear Deck a try. I presented to my classmates a rundown on this assessment technology during class, but I wanted to go more in-depth on how it works in this post by explaining the positive and negative impacts it has on teaching and learning, as well as giving a review of the platform.
Pear Deck is a platform that allows teachers to make their Google Slides a bit more interactive. Pear Deck is simply an add-on extension to your Google Slides. When it is activated, a teacher may create lessons or use preplanned lessons so that students may use the code and then draw, write, or drag their answers. Unlike some platforms like Jamboard students do not see other classmates’ answers.
When you sign up for Pear Deck, you are given a 30-day free trial of the premium version. After that, a user can decide between the basic version, the premium version ( 149.99/year), or customize their membership to their own liking (price will vary). You still get a fair amount of content from the free version.
The site is pretty easy to navigate. You can access the “content orchard” for planned lessons or start your own slides by simply installing the Pear Deck extension. After that, you can choose from a variety of slides and templates.
I found out that my school division does not allow the Pear Deck add-on. I wonder if a teacher would be able to ask for it to not be restricted. This means I had to use my personal email to use it.
Positive Impacts of Pear Deck
Technology can be a great asset to a classroom ( if used correctly). After using Pear Deck with my students, here are a few positives I found while testing it out.
- It’s Google Slides! My students caught on so quickly since they are used to Google Slides. I also found myself using templates that were already made and I changed the words to fit my content.
- It’s engaging! We were able to review Math for a good 45 minutes without anyone getting antsy. Many of my students who have difficulties working independently in Math were super engaged. They loved drawing, dragging, and typing their answers.
- It helps develop some pretty important digital skills ( and yours too!)- Having your students try out new platforms allows them to practice their tech skills. Teachers also get the chance to work on their own skills.
- It isn’t time-consuming to make lessons- I made a review in about 10 minutes that lasted a whole period.
- You receive feedback immediately and can send it back easily- As my students were working, I could see who was on which question and I could see what they were typing. This is ideal when you want to see if your students understood a concept or if you need to spend more time on it. You also receive an archived session so you can review it and then send feedback to students individually.
Negative Impacts of Pear Deck
Technology in the classroom is still new to some of us as well as our students. Here are some negatives I saw while reviewing this assessment platform.
- Lots of frustration- Even though my students are used to Google Slides, many of them struggled to make textboxes or draw. Most of them were patient with the fact that it would take some time to figure out how to use some of the buttons. However, some were easily frustrated when they fell behind a bit, even though I explained this was only formative and just to practice.
- Not good for summative assessments- I don’t see how Pear Deck would be ideal for summative assessments. It’s a great way to check in or revise, but I don’t see it working as an assignment for marks. Perhaps if your students were super tech savvy, but I think it would be difficult to be helping students while making sure they aren’t looking at each other’s screens.
- Tech problems– Not many of us have enough tech in our room for each student. My students had to work in partners, which worked for a formative assessment, but I wasn’t able to really see if every one of my students understood on their own. You also have to remember that technology doesn’t always work. As a teacher, you need to be ready for problems like no internet, a student not being able to sign in, your projector not working, or a computer not turning on.
- Time-consuming for those who aren’t tech-savvy– Even though it didn’t take me long to make a revision, I wouldn’t want to make one every day because sending feedback individually also eats up some of your time. One of my students realized that they would have been able to complete the question on Google Slides much faster if it was on pencil and paper.
My students and I enjoyed trying out Pear Deck ( one student even asked to use it in Math again today!) It took some time for my students to get the hang of it ( but that’s normal for anything new). I wouldn’t use Pear Deck for any summative assessment, but I really enjoyed using it as a check-in and as a revision. I hope to keep trying out new assessment technologies in my classroom so my students and I can keep exploring new ways to teach and learn.
What are your favourite online platforms to revise/practice Math?
How do you work with having different levels of digital skills in your classroom?
Thanks for reading!